Small plates are a big hit with Miamians (something to do with the year-round pressure to be swimsuit-ready, perhaps?). In fact, three of our favorite tapas joints have also made our list of the best restaurants in the city. Settle in for a night of paella, tortilla and more, all paired with Spanish-skewed cocktails or wine.
Best tapas spots in Miami
In the dozen years since it opened, Xixón has grown from a small deli serving patrons at repurposed wine-barrel tables into a restaurant that seats more than 200 people. It’s now one of Miami’s most popular spots for traditional Spanish food. Savor classic dishes such as juicy meatballs and stir-fried garbanzos, or try one of the weekly specials like Thursday’s popular black rice with squid ink and shrimp. The cold bar dispenses ready-made tapas like sardines, potato salad and deviled eggs. A small market sells charcuterie and house-made marzipan among other goodies.
Don’t let the lackluster exterior fool you. This quaint restaurant next door to a bodega on a nondescript downtown street serves some of the best Catalan tapas this side of Barcelona. The decadent Els Ous, for example, pairs poached eggs with summer black truffle. Chef Deme Lomas sources ingredients almost daily, and co-owner Karina Iglesias will likely be the one showing you to your seat and taking your order in the intimate space.
The celebrity chef’s exuberance and enthusiasm for cutting-edge cuisine are reflected throughout The Bazaar’s playful tapas menu. Ham croquettes are served in a glass sneaker, sorbet caipirinhas are mixed tableside with dry ice, and tender slices of churrasco are seasoned with a dry rub of Cuban coffee. The cocktail menu is equally inventive, riffing on all sorts of Latin staples such as the mojito-inspired Old Cuban, which subs the usual club soda for Spanish cava.
When the Pubbelly crew tackles tapas, you can bet on bold flavors and unusual culinary influences. Tomato-rubbed baguettes and assorted charcuterie are crowd pleasers, but adventurous eaters will want to sample the escargot and rabbit sausage and various squid and octopus dishes. The place is always busy, but the solid service keeps pace. Dine when the weather isn’t sweltering and make use of the sidewalk tables overlooking lively Sunset Harbor.
It’s rare to see the glass doors of this spacious, corner-facing restaurant closed—on most nights, the crowds around the enormous bar spill out onto the sidewalk. Admittedly, it’s the inventive cocktail menu and drink specials that lure the after-work crowd, but the tantalizing aromas wafting from the open kitchen convince them to stay. Feast on classic tapas such as tortilla and garlicky shrimp as well as the signature huevos Bulla, a modern twist on huevos estrellados—which brings together crispy potato chips, fried eggs, potato foam, truffle oil and jamón Serrano.
Its quirky location inside a BP gas station works for this unconventional eatery (the name is also Spanish slang for “hell”). The market-cum-restaurant offers 40 wines available by the glass, but it also stocks approximately 1,500 bottles from Spain and beyond, any of which you can have uncorked for a $10 fee. Because dishes blend Basque, Catalan and Galician flavors, the eclectic fare runs the gamut from seafood samplers and meat and cheese boards to chorizo in wine sauce and dulce de leche crepes.
Unlike Barcelona, Miami doesn’t have many restaurants with sidewalk seating, which makes this Coconut Grove tapas destination all the more authentic. Throw in sumptuous dishes such as shellfish-packed paella and a decadent gazpacho with lobster confit, and dinner will feel like a mini vacation. On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, musicians serenade diners.
For small plates that pack big, global flavors, head to this bustling spot inside the InterContinental Hotel. Though it’s billed as a steakhouse, chef-restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s sole Miami venture serves an assortment of more than 20 hot and cold snack-sized dishes perfect for sharing—from Peruvian tiradito to Spanish croquettes and Korean pork ribs.
Diners flock to La Taberna Giralda for the entertainment as much as for the food. Festive flamenco nights reign on weekends, when the sweet and deceptively strong made-to-order sangria flows. Tapas tend to be on the traditional side, including paella, patatas bravas and tortilla. Whatever you order, finish your meal with the excellent crema catalana, Spain’s version of crème brûlée.